Color: Gray with a white underbelly.
Shape: Small rodent with a bushy tail.
Size: Head and body length 9-11 inches, weight 14-21 oz.
Also known as tree squirrels, gray squirrels usually live in wooded areas and make their nests in trees, though they often enter homes during late fall looking for a winter nesting place.
Gray Squirrel Habits
Hoarders by nature and armed with an excellent spatial memory and sense of smell, gray squirrels are capable of making and remembering several thousand food caches per season.
Often regarded as an invasive species due to their propensity for overpopulation, gray squirrels typically have 2 litters per year ranging from 2-6 pups, one litter in late summer and one in early spring.
These intelligent animals aren’t picky about what they eat, choosing to feed on a variety of nuts, seeds, bulbs, insects, fruit, tree bark, buds, acorns, fungi, vegetables, and even insects, frogs, and small nesting birds. Though they do not hibernate or venture out during the heat of the day, gray squirrels tend to be most active during the early and late hours of the day.
Do Gray Squirrels Build Nests?
Squirrel nesting behavior can often be seen in the wild, where squirrels construct nests out of leaves and dry twigs in the cavities of oak and hickory trees. Due to their large populations, gray squirrels are known for seeking shelter in human structures during the coldest months of the year. Looking for warmth in late fall and winter, squirrels often nest in attics and exterior walls, using insulation as nesting material.
Are Gray Squirrels Threatening?
Gray squirrels can do considerable damage to exterior trim and siding as they widen or create new ways to enter structures. Once inside, they will gnaw on electrical wiring, causing shorts and even fires. Squirrels may also carry fleas and other unwanted organisms that can infest a structure long after the squirrels themselves have come and gone.
Signs of a Squirrel Infestation
Due to their playful nature, these early risers are easily identified by homeowners who hear them scurrying in attics or other high places.
To grind down their constantly growing teeth, squirrels are always investigating new territories and chewing on wood, sheetrock, ceilings, and attic support structures.
Prevent Squirrels from Entering Your Home
Gray Squirrels are protected game animals in many areas, but homeowners can limit the damage they cause by using metal flashing or metal mesh to cover any possible entry routes while the animal is out foraging.
Other tried-and-true methods include limiting nearby food sources by squirrel-proofing bird feeders, fencing gardens, and using squirrel repellents made with cayenne and black pepper. Other effective squirrel prevention methods include sealing trashcans and raking up nuts, berries and acorns in the yard.
Trimming tree branches and adding gutter guards that cover downspouts can also prevent squirrels from accessing rooftops. Remove any firewood stacked against your home, repair cracks in foundations and walls, seal entry points, place guards on chimneys, and dangle ropes down chimneys so that squirrels have an escape route if they fall in.
Gray Squirrel Nesting Habits
Squirrels build nests for sleeping and rearing young. Usually built 30 feet off the ground in the fork of a tree limb, squirrels can typically build summer leaf nests in a day. Tree dens are warm, protective nests built in hollow tree trunks. Particularly important during winter months, litters born in tree dens are much more likely to survive than those born in leaf nests. To these agile critters, your home is a desirable alternative to a hollow tree. Squirrels have been known to find refuge in attics, ceilings, eaves, and walls.
How Do You Get Rid of Squirrels?
Getting rid of a squirrel, especially one living in your walls, requires inventive and ingenious exclusion methods. The only approved method for removal is live trapping. Once trapped, squirrels should be relocated at least 4 to 5 miles away so that they will not find their way back to your home.
To remove a squirrel from inside your home, set one-way exclusion doors or live cage traps (baited with seeds, crackers, or fruit). To ensure that an infestation won’t reoccur, it is recommended to seal all existing holes and remove any baby squirrels by cutting out a portion of the wall and removing the squirrel nest with thick welder’s gloves.
To safely, effectively, and humanely treat a squirrel infestation, contact the professionals at Rochester Pest Pro.